Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday flagged off the first UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik ) flight under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) on Shimla-Delhi route.
Simultaneously, Prime Minister also launched the inaugural UDAN flights on Kadapa – Hyderabad and Nanded-Hyderabad routes.
To make air travel accessible to citizens in regionally important cities, the aviation ministry had announced ‘Ude Deshka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) regional connectivity scheme in October last year.
“I want to see people who wear hawai chappal (flip flops) in a hawai jahaz (airplane),” the PM said in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh today.
“Airfare for a 1-hour journey of approximately 500 kilometres on a fixed wing aircraft or for 30-minute journey on a helicopter would be capped at Rs 2,500,” the PMO said.
Alliance Air, a subsidiary of national carrier Air India, will operate the Delhi-Shimla flight that was launched today, and has offered a special starting fare of Rs. 2,036.
India is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, with around 70 million domestic tickets sold annually and passenger numbers rising 20 per cent a year. Officials say raising regional air connectivity would see annual ticket sales jump to 300 million by 2022.
Airlines were invited to start bidding to run specific routes. The five successful bidders have exclusivity for the route for three years, after which government support would tail off as the market becomes sustainable on its own. The scheme will run for 10 years.
The seating capacity of airlines under the scheme will range from 19 to 78, and half the seats in every flight will have a fare cap of Rs. 2,500 per seat per hour.
For longer routes and flight duration, the pricing may vary. A single person can buy 9 to 40 seats in a flight.
To boost regional connectivity, the government planned to connect 44 airports in various Tier-II cities with metros. In many of them, flights had been discontinued due to low demand.
The Airports Authority of India has approved 27 proposals which will see 27 currently served airports, 12 currently underserved airports and 31 currently unserved airports (for a total of 70 airports) connected.
These flights would connect airports spread across over 20 states and union territories including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The airports that would be connected under UDAN include Bhatinda, Shimla, Bilaspur, Neyveli, Cooch Behar, Nanded and Kadapa.
On each flight, 50 percent of the seats would have a cap of Rs 2,500 per seat/hour. Airline Allied Services would operate on 15 routes, SpiceJet 11, Turbo Megha Airways 18, Air Deccan 34 and Air Odisha Aviation 50.
Sources: NDTV, TOI, Zee News